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Jellyfish an unwelcomed sight at the beach this holiday weekend

Lifeguards treating up to 30 people a day for stings
Posted at 5:23 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 17:23:48-04

SOUTH FLORIDA — If you spent any part of your Labor Day weekend at the beach or on the water, you may have noticed some unwanted company - jellyfish.

From Palm Beach County to the Treasure Coast, many of you have commented about the large number of the sea pests in the water.

On Palm Beach, lifeguards said they are treating up to 30 people a day for jellyfish stings.

Thomas Witkop was snorkeling with his friends when he encountered a bunch of jellyfish. "Oh my gosh so many jellyfish, in fact we actually had to come back a little early because the jellies were out of control," Witkop said. "I've been here like 2 months now, so I've been snorkeling a good amount and just in the past week it took off, really a lot of jellies and they were causing us a lot of inconvenience."

His friend Sam Perez said he got stung several times. "All of a sudden they just appear out of nowhere and they are all over you, all over the place and it's really nice if you have goggles but to come up to breathe and trying to swim you are going to end up getting stung," he said. "What's the point? You can't enjoy it if there's that many jellyfish."

It is this time of year, lifeguards say, when the jellyfish start to show up more often and in larger numbers.

Lifeguard/EMT Lex May with the Town of Palm Beach Ocean Rescue said, "it's a big migration that we get every year, I think a lot of the east winds and stuff are playing a big factor, blowing the migration in so there is just a copious amount of jellies in the water right now. So if you feel any stinging or burning or anything like that it could be from the surf breaking up the jellyfish or it could be coming into contact with a whole one because there are tons," he said.

If someone has allergies, their reaction to a jellyfish sting could be more severe, May said.

May said he keeps distilled white vinegar at the lifeguard stand to treat people who get stung and help neutralize the pain. He said there are other things you can do. "In my experience, the best treatment is a warm shower, some Benadryl, some kind of topical lotion like aloe to cool the skin down and keep it from itching," he added.

May expects to see fewer jellyfish by the end of the week, but said they will still be around. If you are concerned, check beach conditions before you head out and always look for what flags are flying at your local beach.